As I lay here in bed on this last day of 2017, I find that instead of compiling a list of changes I want to make in the new year, I can’t stop thinking about all the amazing things The Lord has done in my life over the past 12 months.
When 2017 began, I was being treated for clinical depression with anxiety disorder. There were times I felt so depressed, I wished I could just lay down and die. I wanted to close my eyes in this world, and open them in the presence of God. I was at a point where even if I had the house full of people, I felt completely alone. And I couldn’t sleep. I’d go to bed, then toss and turn, and eventually make my way back downstairs, where I would read or watch TV, hoping that would put me to sleep. On the nights when I could sleep, it was only for an hour or two at a time, then I’d be wide awake again. It was awful. I was unable to focus or concentrate on anything due to the lack of sleep, and the anti-depressants I was taking exacerbated that fuzziness. My doctor told me that insomnia is a symptom of depression and anxiety, but I felt like it was the cause of those mental health issues.
To make matters worse, I felt like I was letting everybody down, including my employer, and those feelings of failure were contributing to the anxiety. I decided to quit my job, let somebody else have it. It was shortly after I made that decision that my doctor finally prescribed some sleeping pills, and the depression completely disappeared within a few days of getting a full seven to eight hours of sleep every night. But the anxiety lingered.
Prior to discovering that insomnia was the real culprit causing the depression, I submitted my DNA for analysis, hoping that I might find a family member on my biological father’s side of the family. I never knew him, and I wanted to know his medical history. I thought that, perhaps, someone on that side of my lineage could shed some light on the depression and anxiety, and let me know if there were any ticking time bombs I should be worried about. Is there heart disease on that side? Kidney disease? Liver disease? Dementia? I had absolutely no idea what could be lurking in my genes. So my husband bought me a DNA kit, I spit in the tube and mailed it off.
While waiting for my DNA results, my guy’s heart disease was growing steadily worse. He was gasping for air while just sitting on the sofa because his heart wasn’t pumping efficiently…he always felt short of breath, and just a simple walk up one flight of stairs to our bedroom was very taxing. Even if I had the central air set to the highest setting, sweat would pour off his body, which was another symptom of the heart disease, and his complexion was becoming grey. We found a new doctor, who ordered tests, and we finally got a diagnosis as to what was going on in there: in addition to the cardiomyopathy (which we already knew about), one of his arteries was more than 80 percent collapsed. A stent was inserted into the collapsed artery, and he improved immediately. His colour changed, his blood pressure became more normal, he was breathing properly, and the sweating stopped. Suddenly, my anxiety was cut in half. They decided that, since he has cardiomyopathy, they would put a pacemaker-defibrillator into his chest. The pacemaker will help his heart beat at a steady rhythm, and the defibrillator will shock his heart should he go into cardiac arrest. But we would have to wait for that to take place.
While waiting for the procedure, my DNA results arrived. The information I received indicated that their database contains the DNA of over 1,400 relatives! As I scrolled through the list, I saw names of cousins I’ve known my whole life, and even more people I’d never heard of. The person at the top was listed as my closest relative in the database, so I sent her a message to try and figure out how we’re related. Turns out, I had found a sister. She was able to answer all of my questions about my biological father’s medical history. I learned that depression and anxiety are issues on that side of the family, and that there is heart disease as well. I also learned that I have nine brothers and sisters! Wow! I’m now in touch with four younger sisters and one older brother online, and I got to meet one of my sisters and a nephew in person in November. Unfortunately, two older sisters have passed away, so I will not get to meet them, and I have yet to make contact with another older brother and a younger brother. My whole life, I wondered if I had any brothers and sisters through my biological father, so that question was finally answered, too. I really hit the jackpot!
Two weeks after meeting my sister and nephew, the cardiologist inserted that device in my husband’s chest, and the remaining anxiety I was feeling disappeared. Poof, it’s gone!
I’m blessed to have a situation where we can afford for me not to work, but I felt like I needed something to do, and it would be nice to have some extra money around here to to do fun things like travelling or going to the museum, stuff like that, so I’ve started my own little business at home, typing court transcripts. I can do it from anywhere in the world, so once my husband has recovered completely, I’m hoping to go to a lot of the places that are on my bucket list.
Yes, 2017 had a horrible start, and when things were at their absolute worst, I would cling to this verse:
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. ~ Romans 8:28 (NIV)
When praying, I would tell God, “I’m trusting you, Lord. I’m believing that promise. I’m thanking you that all of this is going to work together for my good.” He knew the whole time where all of that horrible depression and anxiety were leading me, and I just had to trust Him that it was going to be somewhere good. Had I not experienced those issues, I wouldn’t have found my long lost brothers and sisters.
So I sleep now. I’m no longer depressed, and the anxiety is gone. I’ve just had echocardiogram and electrocardiogram procedures, and will get the results at my next doctor appointment. I’m hoping and praying that they will be good and, if they’re not, I’m glad I’ll be finding out so my doctor can develop a treatment plan. I got to spend time with my family in America, and got to meet family members I never knew existed. And I’m feeling very positive about my husband’s health. The year that came in horribly, is going out beautifully. God is so good!
I want to give a shout-out to the people who were covering me in prayer as I went through all of this: Sharon, Joan, Jillian, Vickie, April, Paul, Shelley, Lisa, Judith, Sandra, Kandi and, of course, my wonderful mom. And a special thanks to my man, Sean, who stuck by me even when he thought I was losing my mind. He held me up in prayer and in his arms, soothed my fears and made life bearable. You all bless me beyond measure, I love you so very much!
And as for 2018, well, I’m going to try to knock off all the weight gained from those anti-depressants, maybe stop using my cardio equipment as expensive laundry hangers. And if I start going through any dark times, I will call on God and claim this promise:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” ~ Jeremiah 29:11
I pray you will have a happy, healthy and prosperous new year, and that you will keep God in the centre of your lives. God bless.